NEWS

Hisham casts doubt on purported co-pilot call

Published
Modified 12 Apr 2014, 2:00 pm

Five Saturdays ago MAS flight MH370 vanished off civilian radar while over the Gulf of Thailand, en route to Beijing. Search efforts in the Indian Ocean off Western Australia are now being narrowed down from audio signals detected, believed to be from the plane's black box.

Latest developments

  • Bar may take action against foreign lawyers

  • Hisham didn't know about co-pilot's call
  • No signals detected in the last 24 hours
  • Officials optimistic that plane could be found soon
  • Follow us as we bring the latest updates and coverage for the search of Flight MH370:

    Bar may take action against foreign lawyers

    7.45pm: The Malaysian Bar Council will consider taking action against foreign lawyers if they offer legal services in Malaysia following the Flight MH370 tragedy as it is against local laws, reports Astro Awani.

    “The Bar will take action against them if the news report is true and they continue to provide further legal services in Malaysia,” says Bar Council president Christopher Leong ( left ).

    US law firm Spagnoletti & Co had taken up advertisements in local newspapers publicising a session offering legal advice to the families of passengers on board the ill-fated flight in Kuala Lumpur today.

    Leong adds the Bar will check if the foreign lawyers have also contravened Malaysian law against touting or ‘ambulance chasing’.

    The media which turned up at the session at Renaissance Hotel at 3.30pm were turned away by the firm's local representative.

    It is learnt that none of the family members attend the meeting and the event was subsequently called off.

    Several overseas law firms have attempted to publicise their services since the March 8 tragedy.

    Hisham didn't know about co-pilot's call

    7.35pm: Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has casted doubt on New Straits Times' report that MH370 co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid had attempted to make a phone call as the plane flew low over Penang.

    “I can't comment (on the report) because if it were true, we would have known earlier on,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

    He was non-committal when asked to comment earlier today, saying that the question should be directed to NST instead.

    He said he had adopted the approach not to confirm anything without any corroboration or verification since the beginning when Flight MH370 was reported missing.

    He said it was irresponsible for any quarters to take the opportunity to make a baseless report.

    Bogus emails target relatives

    6.30p m : Internet fraudsters are training their sights on the relatives of MH370 victims by sending them bogus emails, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press published on the broadcaster SBS’ website.

    The email purports to have come from MAS and urges those seeking compensation to contact an EON Bank officer. However, the email originated from a Yahoo account in Hong Kong.

    “It appears to be a standard advance fee fraud, with those seeking compensation first required to pay administrative charges before funds can be released,” the report said.

    China families return home to wait

    6pm: The last of the relatives of those on-board MH370 have left Everly Hotel, Putrajaya, where they were previously placed to follow the developments of the crisis.

    Berita Harian today says this is because there have been no new developments on the incident, so the next-of-kin have chosen to follow any news from home where they can deal with other family affairs.

    “Nevertheless the hotel has reserved three rooms for any of the family members at any time, should there be any new developments in the search,” says the report quoting a Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development spokesperson.

    They have also been given instructions on how to reach a counsellor via the ministry’s home help service should they require it.

    Hishammuddin mum on NST report

    3.30pm: Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declines to weigh in on New Straits Times (NST) report that MH370 co-pilot Fariq Ab Hamid purportedly made a call while flying north of Penang on its unauthorised diversion.

    "You have to ask NST's comments about that," he says at a press conference today, when asked to confirm the "exclusive" front-page report today that quoted unnamed sources.

    RMAF wants better surveillance equipment

    1.45pm: Royal Malaysian Air Force chief Rodzali Daud has urged the government to boost the military’s maritime surveillance capabilities especially through the use of electronic and acoustic equipment, following lessons from MH370.

    “This is because (our) C-130 aircraft is not equipped for deep sea search and that is a shortcoming.

    “Our maritime domain awareness aircraft is the Beechcraft King Air 200, but its range is insufficient for search and rescue in the Indian Ocean, only the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea,” the Malay-language daily Sinar Harian quoted him as saying.

    Malaysia has three C-130 cargo aircraft in Perth to participate in the visual search for debris from MH370.

    Many other aircraft involved in the search were maritime patrol aircraft from various air forces such as the P-3 Orion and P-8 Poseidon, which had been searching visually for possible debris in addition to dropping sonobuoys to listen for the MH370’s black box pinger.

    Co-pilot made call after detour

    9.35am: According to New Straits Times today, the criminal investigation has revealed that co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid made a phone call while the plane was flying close to Penang.

    It reports from unnamed sources that the call was abruptly cut off before it was connected.

    Investigators are reportedly trying to establish the details of the call.

    Search narrows with help of pings

    9.04am: The Perth-based Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC) led by Australia says up to nine military aircraft, one civil aircraft and 14 ships will assist in today’s search.

    "Today the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has planned a visual search area totalling approximately 41,393 square km. The centre of the search areas lies approximately 2,331 km north west of Perth."

    However, it reports that "there have been no confirmed acoustic detections over the past 24 hours".

    It says a number of objects recovered from the ocean surface are also not related to the missing aircraft.

    Two ships and aircraft will try to narrow down the black box’s location before sending underwater drone Bluefin-21 to find it.

    “Today, Australian defence vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield continues more focused sweeps with the Towed Pinger Locator to try and locate further signals related to the aircraft's black boxes.

    “The AP-3C Orions continue their acoustic search, working in conjunction with Ocean Shield. The oceanographic ship HMS Echo is also working in the area with Ocean Shield,” says the JACC in a statement.

    Weather conditions indicate isolated showers, reducing visibility to five km and sea swells up to a metre.

    RECAP:

    The ADV Ocean Shield is fitted with a TPL-25 towed pinger locator and a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), both supplied by the US Navy.

    JACC chief Angus Houston has described it as the best-equipped vessel in the search.

    Along with the British vessel HMS Echo and sonobuoys dropped from aircraft, search crew will attempt to detect sounds from MH370’s black box pinger about 4.5 km below the ocean surface.

    Further detections will give them a better idea of the source of the signals and narrow the search area for the AUV.

    This is important because the sonar and camera-equipped drone can only search a small area each day compared to the pinger locator, which is essentially a highly specialised underwater microphone.

    Thus far, ADV Ocean Shield has detected signals consistent with the black box pingers on four occasions within the same area. A fifth detection via a sonobuoy has been discounted as being unrelated.   

    Houston has stopped short of saying that these signals are from MH370, and insisted on making visual confirmation of a wreckage first before doing so.

    Thus far, no decision have been made on when to send the AUV, but Houston said it may be days ahead, when it is certain that the pinger’s batteries have exhausted.

    The batteries are only designed to last 30 days, but may extend to 45 days in practice.

    The condition of MH370's pinger batteries have however been questioned over the past weeks.

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